Tag Archives: Doppelganger

Not Those Guardians, Not That War

Greetings, Legions of the Unspoken!  Dean Compton is back with you here to delve into some more 90’s goodness.  I am excited that spring is finally sprung, baseball is in full swing, and that some small indie film called Avengers: Infinity War has dropped.  You probably haven’t heard of it because it’s so obscure and there’s been almost no build-up.

OR IT’S THE BIGGEST FILM MARVEL HAS BROUGHT US YET! WHICHEVER!

We’re all very excited.  Those of us who braved the speculation crashes of the 90’s have been waiting for this movie for around twenty-five years.  If you had told me then that one day there’d be a movie based on Thanos’s exploits with the Infinity Gems, I would have thought you were Mephisto, prince of lies.  Or at least Zarathos or maybe one of those weird demons from Hellblazer or something.  Alas, here we are, though, on the precipice of what is hopefully a monumental moment for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

‘Round these parts we are more interested in the then, than the now, and one of the things that really interested me as I first started my deep dive into comic books some 27 years ago (it’s mega unfair that it has been that long) was the entire Infinity Gauntlet saga.  My first big exposure to superheroes outside of cartoons was the Impel Marvel Trading Cards, series 2 in particular, and the Infinity Gauntlet card captured my attention.  There was Thanos, basking in all the glory that comes with omnipotence.  I didn’t know what had happened, and sadly, I was too late to keep up with the original saga month to month.  Lucky me, though, as The Infinity War was about to break out!

One of the things that attracted me to Infinity War was the epic gatefold covers, many of which depicted the mightiest heroes in the Marvel Universe in a tumultuous struggle with sharp-toothed doppelgangers that looked like they had stepped out of a mirror universe from Tales from the Darkside or something.  What appealed to me even more was that the saga was so large that it burst out of the mini-series like the insides of a tomato hitting the ground, spilling out into almost every other Marvel title!  Most of you will brush this off as a lame sales grab, and, well, it was definitely a sales grab, but it was a sales grab in the best way!

Did you want to see more of Wonder Man’s inner struggle during the Infinity War? How would Sue Richards deal with the seeming death of her husband? Perhaps you wanted to see what happened to Sleepwalker during this struggle?  (Based on sales, you probably didn’t.)  The crossovers meant you could, and they meant that you could try out other titles you hadn’t really given a shot to before.  I know we’re all tired of them now, but this was still a new concept to me then.  Sort of how when I was 16 I was like, “GODDAMN, I CAN’T WAIT TO DRIVE!” but fuck, now I’d almost rather do anything else besides drive, like, y’know, writing crappy articles like this.

One team that I hadn’t gotten a handle on from the Marvel Cards I had seen was the Guardians of the Galaxy.  I don’t recall seeing any of the GOTG (yes, I’m lazy – this article is free, y’all) in the Marvel Universe Series 2 set (cue up dude in the comments proving me wrong), so when I saw the Infinity War crossover issues, I was intrigued.  Who were these guys?  They’re from the future?  Why does that Rambo-looking dude have Captain America’s shield?  (For those of you coming in here who aren’t big pads, big guns, no feet 90’s comic book fans, the GOTG were originally a super-team from a possible Marvel Universe future that eventually diverged.  You’ll see no Star-Lord, Gamora, or Rocket Raccoon here.  Get ready for Major Victory, Nikki, Charlie-27, Starhawk, and more!)

I had already picked up a GOTG issue where they fought a street gang of folks based on The Punisher (which is just as awesome as it sounds), but these issues got me very interested.  An added bonus is this is one of my first experiences with The Inhumans, one of the most underrated superhero groups of all time!

 

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I can’t be the only person who’s a sucker for superhero comics featuring sidebars of the faces of the characters located therein!

The issue takes off with Major Victory, the leader of the GOTG, berating the rest of the team for heading into the past on a mission of pure genocide against the Badoon.  The Badoon are the raison detre for the GOTG, as their attack on our solar system basically wiped out humanity, so the original GOTG united against them and their tyranny!  Somewhere along the way, though, Starhawk convinced them to go back in time and destroy the Badoon before they can destroy humanity.  Major Victory, being the guy with Cap’s shield, doesn’t think too much of this plan, but before he can thoroughly chew the team out, their newest member, Talon, stumbles in.  I’d say he seems sick as a dog, but he’s sort of a cat, so that seems wrong.

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Starhawk is giving Talon a death stare here; what’s he so mad at our cat pal about?

Talon collapses as the team tries to take him to sick bay, but as he does, he tells them to get him to the moon.  Specifically, he wants to go to Attilan, which is the secret city that is home to none other than the Inhumans and their royal family!

The GOTG speed off in that direction, but they have no way of knowing that one of the first blows of The Infinity War has been stuck.  The headquarters of The Fantastic Four (notably good pals of The Inhumans and in particular the royal family), Four Freedoms Plaza, has been blown up by unknown forces, and the fate of the FF and many other superheroes there is unknown!  So to say the least, it really isn’t the best time for a group of superhumans that The Inhumans have no idea exists to teleport into Attilan.  I know this is gonna shock you, but that’s exactly what the GOTG do!  Of course, The Innumans act calmly when Major Victory tries to explain their presence.

 

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Just kidding, y’all; these heroes are gonna fight!  MAKE MINE MARVEL!

The Inhumans and the GOTG punch on each other a bit while telling each other their names, which is legit my favorite kind of fight.  Major Victory is aware the fight is usless, though, and he unleashes a mighty psychokinetic blast that somehow convinces Black Bolt that the GOTG are the good guys.

 

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If the Care Bears were a part of the Marvel Universe, this is totally what their stare would be.

The Inhumans take Talon to the Randac Medcal Center, which, honestly, is what all medical centers should be called henceforth.  As he gets the care he needs, the other Inhumans explain to the GOTG about the explosion at Four Freedoms Plaza, and how they don’t have any idea what may have caused this tragedy.

The two superhero squads (See what I did there?  Now that theme is stuck in your head.)  don’t have a lot of time to discuss the explosion because just as the conversation starts, an array of doppelgangers of both the Inhumans and the Guardians rudely interrupts them.

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Regardless of who they are doppelgangers of, Doppelgangers are always rude.

These doppelgangers from the Infinity War are great.  The razor teeth look genuinely creeped me out back in the day, and to be honest, that look is still sort of unnerving now.  The Infinity War doppelgangers look like the people that are just like us that live on the other side of mirrors.  You can say they’re fake, but let’s be honest — deep down, we all believe in that world on the other side of the mirror, and it sprang to life in the Marvel Universe during the Infinity War.

The good news for the Inhumans and the Guardians is that these doppelgangers go down easy for now.  After Talon reveals a big secret about the future of the Inhumans to the Royal Family, the Guardians split for Avengers Mansion on Earth.  Major Victory has no recollection of these events, and if something has happened to The Avengers, then the Guardians are going to get to the bottom of it!

While the Guardians are teleporting down from Attilan, Doctor Octopus has assembled a ragtag group of villains together in the wake of the explosion at Four Freedoms Plaza.  Doc Ock has information that not only did Four Freedoms Plaza explode, but that nearly every superhero in the city was inside the building when it blew up!  He suggests the group (consisting of Doc Ock, Powderkeg, Jackhammer, Oddball, Titania, the Abosrbing Man, and Yellowjacket [Rita Demara]) attack and loot Avengers Mansion while the heroes are away.  Of course, he is just using these folks, and the good bad doctor plans to abscond with all of the advanced Avengers technology himself!

As this meeting is happening, the Guardians arrive at Avengers mansion, only to be met by the fiercest resistance possible from a slightly out of shape butler and his vacuum cleaner!

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This Jarvis is so much better than movie Jarvis. Fight Me.
Jarvis opens up to the Guardians that the explosion at Four Freedoms Plaza didn’t kill the assembled superheroes and that a task force of heroes has left Earth via mystic means.  Other heroes remain behind for now.  Charlie-27 suggests that the Guardians head that way, when a member of Avengers Mansion security bursts in to alert the Guardians and Jarvis about Doc Ock’s villain team just outside the mansion!  The Avengers security team beefs up with some weaponry while the Guardians of the Galaxy face off with what Jarvis is calling another incarnation of the Masters of Evil!  Talon points out this is a dumb name, but he’s a cat dude named after a bird’s foot, so I dunno that he is in a position to hurl that sort of insult.  Then again, Absorbing Man just calls his group that on the next page, so I guess it’s all fair game.

 

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It’s a rule in the Marvel Universe that anyone who has Cap’s shield is automatically in charge of the situation.

The Guardians spring into action with only Charlie-27 really having a lot of problems. Since he had to take care of the Masters’ most powerful member, I suppose we have to cut him a bit of slack.  Nikki has no issues with Yellowjacket, and she notes that Yellowjacket’s heart didn’t really seem to be in the fight.  There’s a lot of struggle elsewhere, and while the fracas is going on, Doc Ock sneaks off to engage in a contingency plan.  Starhawk, meanwhile, is being confronted by his doppelganger, and in what’s only a minor league asshole move for the guy if you have read a lot of GOTG, is looking forward to being absorbed by his doppelganger until he realizes that by doing so his own free will would be subverted.

 

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Starhawk is supposed to have new omniscience as “the one who knows” but he seems to be the only one during the entire Infinity War crossover who doesn’t know that getting absorbed by the doppelgangers is a really bad idea.

The Guardians take out the Masters of Evil, although they need the help of Yellowjacket’s face turn to get the job done.  Nikki and Yellowjacket take off during the battle for the inside of Avengers Mansion, and when the other Guardians finally catch up to them, they’ve been overcome by Doc Ock and a few members of the Masters of Evil we hadn’t seen yet!

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More intimidating fat dude: Kingpin or Doc Ock?

With that it’s on to Guardians of the Galaxy #29 to wrap up the Guardians involvement in the Infinity War, and this time the war comes home!  And by the war coming home, I mean a bunch of doppelgangers of both the Guardians and the Masters of Evil are gonna be such a big deal in the last part of this story that they are the only fucking thing on the cover.

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The one on the bottom left looks like a Morbius doppelganger.  RISE OF THE MIDNIGHT SONS CROSSOVER, Y’ALL!

Also, while we are looking at this cover, how could you even tell which one of those Shockers is the doppelganger?  Both have weird looking eyes, and neither have those sharp ass teeth that should have clued Starhawk in that merging with the doppelgangers is a bad idea.

Another bad idea would be to turn your back on any member of the GOTG, even one who you had previously thought defeated.  Doc Ock has no knowledge of the Guardians, so he and the other Masters of Evil are surprised when Nikki and Yellowjacket come back from their unconscious state and turn the tables on the Masters of Evil!

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Make your own “they shocked the Shocker” jokes here.

Both teams soon have bigger problems on their hands, and I mean this literally as Gargantua’s doppelganger teleports onto the scene.  Other doppelgangers of both the Guardians and the Masters of Evil start arriving left and right, leaving Doc Ock and Major Victory no choice but to have their teams join forces to attempt to repel these ungodly abominations, although Gargantua needs no encouragement to take the fight right to the razor toothed mirror men!

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Fucking Ouch

The fight seems endless, as more and more doppelgangers pour out of portals, threatening to overwhelm hero and villain alike.  Due to the actions of Galactus in another comic book, the doppelgangers all disappear like a bad memory.  Really, though, shouldn’t that be a good memory?  We forget the good stuff all the time, while we continue to torture ourselves with the bad memories late at night when we should be sleeping.  All apologies for that; it’s a tad morose to be in an article highlighted by an evil giant punching through the chest of his more evil doppelganger.  I won’t let it happen again, folks

Anyhow, with the day saved, Doc Ock is of the mindset that the Masters of Evil should take out the Guardians and resume with their plan to take over Avengers Mansion.  The Masters of Evil treat Doc Ock the way you treat your pal who just doesn’t know when the party’s over and turn on him faster than a new superhero universe popped up in the early 90’s!

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Never mind that Shocker joke you made earlier; dude himself had it covered the whole goddamn time.

All’s well that ends well, and if the bad guys are gonna chase themselves off, I reckon it doesn’t get much better than that.  Yellowjacket also stays behind, and soon she’ll head back to the future with the Guardians and even join the team!  Before she gets to bask in the glory of being in Marvel’s premiere 31st century super hero squad, there’s just one more task to complete.  Jarvis takes his duties seriously, and he insists that the Guardians of the Galaxy become the Custodians of the Castle as Jarvis walks right up to them and demands they take part in repairs and cleanup!

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Did the Fantastic Four really start like what?  A janitorial crew?  I don’t recall that, but with all the retcons they’ve had, who fucking knows?

Jarvis getting the Guardians to clean up Avengers Mansion might be the greatest moment in the history of the Marvel Universe.  Fight me if you disagree.  Or better yet, fight my evil doppelganger.  The one with the teeth.

Hope everyone enjoyed this look back at Infinity War!  It’s definitely a fun part of the larger crossover, although it could have used a bit of Thanos or Warlock to really spruce things up and make it feel more like a part of the larger crossover.  It would have been nice, but it wasn’t really needed.  Other than that minor oversight, this is a great example of how a larger crossover should spill into a book.  No one who just read this felt ripped off because some of the events wrap up elsewhere.  If you were a regular reader of Guardians of the Galaxy, it developed characters further (some of which aren’t mentioned in this write-up.  Go read the book, people!)  These three issues also did a great job displaying the Guardians to a non-regular reader.  All in all, for all the flak that 90’s crossovers get (some of which is deserved), this shows you how that 90’s mega-epic could work in a spin-off crossover if done right!

Everyone, enjoy the movie.  It’s amazing that we’re gonna get to see this, right?  Just try and remember being a teenager in 1992, eyes wide open over Thanos’s shenanigans in the Marvel Universe then, and try and think about that young person would feel if they knew what they were gonna see.  We’ve got our tickets for Saturday!  I can’t wait!

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Maximum Carnage: A Symbiote Fan Reflects (pt.2)

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Welcome back, fans of the Unspoken! Tis the season to be more loving and giving. So, what better way for me to show you my love and be more giving than to give you my last installment of the Maximum Carnage epic?! What’s that, you say? Get on with it? Well then, let us begin.

02-03This part of the story begins with J. Jonah Jameson actually looking concerned about his hometown and stating how someone needs to do something. When he enters his office, lo and behold, a chance to do just that appears because Spidey and Co. are there and have something they haven’t had in the past seven issues…a plan!  They want ol’ Triple J. to publish an article with an invitation for both teams to finish this at Carnage’s home sweet home, the orphanage he grew up in.

Jonah, being the epic ass he is, immediately begins badmouthing everyone there and saying how he won’t help out in the slightest. (Oh how quickly we change our minds, eh fellow Symbifans?!) This is until Venom’s long, Gene Simmons-like tongue darts from his mouth, making a slurping noise! Jonah has an immediate change of heart.

08 Later, while in the midst of his murderous spree, Carnage spies a newspaper and impales the man reading it. Reading it himself, he of course takes the bait! (Not there the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree, is he?!) He immediately heads there. Upon arriving at the rather decrepit old orphanage, Carnage takes his cohorts on a type of trip through memory lane. As he reminiscences about past horrors, he gets too wrapped up in his own thoughts, leaving himself vulnerable as Spider-Man and Co. make their presence known! But before the battle begins, we’re taken back to the place where our “friendly neighborhood cyborg” AKA Deathlok is still pinned to a skyscraper! (Seriously, the dude is STILL there!) But, thanks to the iron fist of….well….Iron Fist, he is broken free and taken to safety.

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We now take you back to our battle already in progress. All hell has broken loose! Heroes and villains alike are being thrashed everywhere you look! Venom takes this time to blast Carnage with the Spidey Gang’s “liberated” sonic blaster but to no effect! The same can’t be said for Firestar’s microwave blasts, though! (She’d be great for gas station burritos! …and now I’m hungry.) Anyway, Carnage falls! He is beaten! Venom moves in for the kill but is stopped by Spider-Man. As this occurs, Shriek takes this moment to kind of “pimp slap” Cletus, clawing his face. This draws blood and Carnage is back to full power!

01-02Yes folks, Carnage is at full strength and boy is he pumped! After teasing the good guys a bit at their failure to put him away (childish, right?!), the battle begins anew! During this, Shriek actually begins monologuing about how her power, amped by the chaos that is Carnage, has actually been driving the day-to-day citizens into crazed mobs! (She actually says this all out loud like a mad scientist in an old comic book! The funny part is that she even catches herself doing this and laughs at how she’s  “talking to herself like some comic book character!” Oh, the irony!) But I digress. Spidey begins to wonder if perhaps this is what is making most of his team act so violent. During the battle, Venom and Spider-Man notice that Carnage shies away from Firestar’s microwave heat blasts.

14_kindlephoto-107253095Venom tells her to pour it on and finish him once and for all. The shocker? Spider-Man agrees! Reluctant, Firestar begins her attack. It starts to work. The threat of Carnage is about to end! That’s when Spidey comes to his senses and makes her stop. This enrages Venom and he knocks Spider-Man flying. He advances on Shriek but the sonics of her blasts prove to be too much for his symbiote. He falls. Shriek and Carnage then beat the holy hell out of Venom and swing off to torture him more at their leisure! Meanwhile, Team Spider-Man lies broken and bleeding. Spidey prays for hope. That’s when hope arrives…in the form of Captain America! (Hold for applause!)

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As Spider-Man, Firestar, and Captain America regroup at the near-empty Avengers HQ (Those Avengers! Never around when you need ’em!), Spider-Man’s ribs are finally put on the mend with the help of some Stark tech. While checking the computer files on Carnage’s “family outing,” Cap realizes that the Avengers computer network is being hacked by an outside source! Pulling the culprits on-screen, they discover it to be Deathlok and Iron Fist! (Now, You mean to tell me that Tony Stark has the technology to heal Spider-Man’s ribs but his computer isn’t somehow protected against hackers?! Gosh, the people of the Marvel Universe should really feel safe! Good one, Tony! Sheesh!)

web-of-spider-man-103-0203Anywho, all involved decide upon an alliance, but first, Spidey decides to check up on his wife. (About time, Mr. Parker!)  As this is transpiring, what’s left of Team Spider-Man are on the hunt for Carnage and Co. plus the captured Venom. The trail, however, turns cold until Carnage’s “family” attacks from the rear!

web-of-spider-man-103-16_kindlephoto-116577682Morbius is nearly destroyed by Carrion’s touch, and Black Cat is beaten down by the combined might of Demogoblin and Doppelganger! Things would have turned deadly real quick if not for the timely intervention of the new hero, Nightwatch! While this is going on, Venom is at the mercy of Carnage and Shriek within the torch of the Statue of Liberty. Sonics are fired on him again and again as he is chained above a roaring fire! (And all of us symbiote fans know just how much symbiotes love loud sound and flame!)

Spider-Man has arrived home to his distraught wife. The loving reunion doesn’t last long, though, as the radio comes to life with a news report about an attempted breakout at the police precinct with hostages caught within! Spidey arrives on scene and does his thing with experienced grace and determination. Meanwhile, the battered superheroes leave to lick their wounds and rethink their methods. How will good triumph over evil with almost all of Team Spider-Man injured?! Easy. Spidey arrives with new back up! Things are starting to look up!

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When we last saw Venom, he was being turned into a living s’more by Carnage and Shriek. Now? He’s just being roasted alive by Carnage alone. (Seriously, this is like the Deathlok thing all over again! Someone, help the poor guy out!) But, while Carnage toasts Venom literally, Morbius and Nightwatch suddenly crash through the Statue of Liberty’s torch! They have Demogoblin and Doppelganger on the run!

amazing-spider-man-380-001anpymgold_kindlephoto-133376001We then cut scene to Spidey and his new crew. They speed through the New York skies, trying to find any sign of Team Carnage. They don’t find all of them, just one of the most dangerous…Shriek! Somehow, this little minx has managed to sneak off on her own and is using her considerable power to create utter chaos in the good citizenry! The heroes strike with precision and force, and, truth be told, it’s almost a stalemate until….Wham! (Not the band. The sound effect. Sorry, Deadpool.) She’s knocked out by a certain iconic shield thrown by Captain America! (Were you expecting someone else?!) Shriek is captured!

We then cut back to the action within Lady Liberty. Nightwatch and Morbius aren’t doing that badly as a team! As Carnage watches on, protecting his hostage, Demo and Doppel are being whupped! That is, until the sun starts to rise outside, and all good vampires (even living ones like Morbius) have to retreat for the day. Nightwatch grabs the blood-drinker quickly and flies away to safety.

amazing-spider-man-380-009anpymgold_kindlephoto-133541005Meanwhile, with Shriek incapacitated, Spidey and Friends begin to calm the angry mobs. Yes, things are finally looking up! That is until Demogoblin and Doppelganger arrive on the scene and free her from capture! But the heroes are ready this time! Having superior teamwork on their side, they begin to triumph! Even the populace, tired of being used, start to get in on the action! They actually throw things at the villains! This enrages Shriek and she turns her powers up to eleven! Even the heroes are having trouble resisting it! But they eventually do, just in time to see themselves surrounded by the same New Yorkers they just freed!

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The next part takes us back to the horrific scene within Lady Liberty. As Venom continues to roast, he finally begs for mercy! (Can this be true? Can the “Lethal Protector” really be a total wussy?!) Cackling with glee, Carnage raises his stolen sonic blaster to cause even more pain. Venom sends tendrils of his symbiotic other down the barrel, causing it to malfunction! He then snaps his manacles, smashes Carnage a good one in the face, and swings to freedom! (We didn’t doubt ya for a minute, V-Man!) At that moment, in a familiar church, the missing Cloak sits vigil, awaiting….what? Even he isn’t sure of the answer.

But back to Spider-Man and the rest of the heroes. Team Spidey is definitely losing this one, folks! For every crazed New Yorker they subdue, ten more rise to take their place! As Shriek watches with her new “family” from the rooftops, she soon decides to join in herself.

07That’s when Carnage himself appears! Angered that the lot of them have been maiming and killing without him, he attacks the ringleader….Shriek! This makes Doppelganger angry and he strikes out at “daddy dearest”! But alas, Carnage is too strong for the little guy and beats him within an inch of his life! (Jerry! Jerry!) To add insult to injury, he then kicks the limp form from the rooftop. It lands on the unforgiving concrete below! (Talk about tough love!)

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Demogoblin then decides he’s sick of this little gang himself and turns to go.  There’s only one problem with that. While this was all going on, Shriek lost mental control of the crowd below! This is also when a blinding light hits the villains. Turning, they see (drum roll please!) Dagger has returned!

22Both sides of this war stand transfixed by the light that is Dagger! No one moves. That is until Shriek…well, shrieks in outrage that the victim of her proudest murder is not deceased after all! ( You know, that’s just gotta suck! I mean, ya try and murder some people…) Shriek files into a frenzy, attacking Dagger with all she has. What does Dagger do? She shows her the light! She actually starts to heal Shriek’s tortured mind! (Hippie!) It starts to work too until, at the last moment, Shriek gets even more crazed and lashes out with a furious blast! Spidey is there to rescue her this time, however, and gets her to safety.

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It takes mere moments for the villains to recover and turn to strike. As they do, they notice that the heroes have fled?! Only Spider-Man stands as the last line of defense! Carnage laughs maniacally as he leads the charge! All of them then take turns beating the hell out of our hero! Spider-Man just keeps pulling himself back to his feet! (Now that, folks, is the very definition of a hero! Sorry. Something in my eyes….sniffle.) That’s when a blast of energy hits Shriek from behind.

14_kindlephoto-179254406Turning, they see Deathlok strapped to a high-tech weapon of some sort! Spider-Man has dubbed it the “Good Bomb.” It releases amplified calming alpha waves from the hero’s minds! Sounds lame, I know, but the effects are fantastic! Carrion is hit so hard that he returns to his human form! Demogoblin sees the error of his ways and turns to flee in terror but collapses instead! Shriek drops to her knees in horror! But Carnage? He resists the power of the machine for so long and so hard that his heart stops! He drops, defeated. Team Carnage is finished at last! The villains are taken to the proper authorities and the heroes disperse, understandably exhausted. Spidey sits in Central Park, lost in thought. That’s when an angered Venom appears! It seems the V-Man is ticked because he was tortured with no help and was robbed of his chance to defeat Carnage himself. Or was he? Carnage pulls himself from a fountain near the two heroes, alive and kicking!

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And now, the finale of Maximum Carnage! As I said, Carnage is alive! How? We don’t know for sure. Spider-Man theorizes that, in a moment of desperation, Carnage created a copy of his symbiote and placed it on a nearby victim. (After 14 parts to this story, let’s just roll with it!) However this happened, he’s back and wastes no time in attacking both Spidey and Venom at the same time!

spider-man-unlimited-02-01It’s mostly between Venom and Carnage with Spider-Man caught in the middle, trying to talk some sense into the both of them! (Yeah, great plan, Spidey! I’m sure they’ll listen to reason, shake hands, and enter police custody after singing a round of White Lion’s “When the Children Cry.” Damn, just dated myself!)  Back to the action! Carnage, still disoriented from the weapon from earlier, takes a real beating at the hands of Venom, so he retreats. Spider-Man then tries to reach out to Venom. Venom then “reaches out” himself…with his fist, shattering both sides of Spidey’s ribs before perusing Carnage! (Ugh! Again with the ribs!)

This time, though, he does the smart thing and goes to the damn hospital. While there, he meets up with his wife and goes home to rest up a bit. While this is going on, Carnage is losing it! I mean, more than usual! He even crashes through the wall of the cell he once shared with Eddie “Venom” Brock, where the nightmare that is Carnage began, to find some solace! He finds none as Venom crashes in after him, beats him down again, and forces yet another retreat!

spider-man-unlimited-02-14_kindlephoto-186982734Meanwhile, more rested, Spider-Man is ready to head back out. MJ then approaches him. Now, you expect another argument but, surprise, surprise, she actually gives him a kiss for good luck! (Kind of late in the game to give your approval here, Mary Jane! I mean, 14 issues!)

Carnage, on the other hand, is in the fetal position within the orphanage he grew up in, surrounded by the ghosts of his past! (Man, that weapon sure messed him up, huh?!)  This doesn’t last, though, as Venom finds him once again! But when the beating becomes near-lethal, Spider-Man interrupts! As Venom and Spidey have words, Carnage retreats for the third time! (Jeez! Someone stop this madman! Am I right, readers?!) This forces yet another uneasy alliance between the two. They swing off in pursuit. Where is ol Carnage this time? Why, digging up the corpse of his mother at a nearby graveyard of course!

spider-man-unlimited-02-30This time he is attacked by both Spider-Man, Venom, and the returned Black Cat! But, even though Spidey gets in the way again and again, Venom hits Carnage so hard, he starts to regain his senses! This is about to take a turn for the very worst! Or is it? Venom, sensing the danger, crashes Carnage and himself through the fence of a nearby power company! The result is a massive explosion! That’s about it. Carnage is defeated at last, Venom lives to fight another day, and Spider-Man, looking to the gravestones near him, decides it’s time to put this whole mess behind him and go home.

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Dedicated to my mom, Pam Bowen-Metz, who has always believed in my writing talent, even when I didn’t. I love you, mom! Thank you for 38 years of continued support!

Maximum Carnage: A Symbiote Fan Reflects (pt. 1)

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Greetings, fans of the Unspoken! It’s your pal, the Symbifan, back at it again with an article on one of my most favorite Marvel story lines called (You guessed it!) Maximum Carnage! Now, ever since I was a young comic fan, the Marvel symbiotes have fascinated me (Can’t tell by my moniker, can you?!), and in the 90’s, there was definitely no shortage of symbiote-related stories to read. But, in my mind, one has always stood out. That’s right! The “big daddy” of all alien parasite tales. A story so epic, that it had to be told in 14 parts! Well then, without further ado, let us begin.
spider-man-unlimited-01-01The story begins as the serial killer, Cletus Kassidy AKA Carnage, is being transferred from the Vault to Ravencroft for psychiatric treatment. Now, these yahoos at Ravencroft actually believe that Cletus is just your average psychopath in need of some meds and maybe a little therapy. They also believe his supposed “living costume” was merely part of a fantasy he created for himself. Wrong! Cletus, merely biding his time, cuts his wrist with his cuffs, and blam-o….instant symbiote! Kassidy becomes Carnage once again and begins slaughtering everyone he can get his creepy tendrils on! Meanwhile, Spider-Man, in his civilian identity of Peter Parker, has no idea any of this is going on as he attends the funeral for his friend and sometime enemy, Harry Osborn. In fact, he doesn’t catch wind of any of it until he overhears a radio broadcast while picking up Chinese food. (Ah, saved by a craving for General Tao’s chicken!)

 

carnage-and-shriek-meetCarnage, on the other hand, has stopped disemboweling guards long enough to meet a new partner in crime in the fellow lunatic Shriek. Shriek talks Carnage into letting her in on the massacre he is soon to unleash upon New York. As they escape together, they swing throughout the city and seemingly locate the object of Carnage’s revenge….the Amazing Spider-Man!

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But upon closer examination, they find it to be none other than Spidey’s “evil double” Doppelganger! After a brief skirmish, Shriek decides she likes the little monster and they decide to form one heck of a dysfunctional family! Carnage leaves the two on a rooftop to await his return as he attends other matters. Later, Spider-Man, in search of Carnage, swings by and is immediately attacked by the evil duo. The fight goes back and forth until Spidey, finally unable to face the two alone, gets hit hard in the ribs, presumably shattering them. He falls from the rooftop and loses consciousness in an alleyway. The first part ends with Carnage revealed perched within J. Jonah Jameson’s window at the Daily Bugle. (Ready for a good old-fashioned kidnapping anyone?!)

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At least, that’s what I thought. Turns out Carnage just wanted  Jameson to tell his “pals,” Spider-Man and Venom, that he wanted to have a little….chat! Meanwhile, Spidey’s ribs are killing him! So of course it’s a perfect time for some street punks to try and make a name for themselves by murdering our favorite arachnid!

web-of-spider-man-101-01There’s only one problem with that little plan….three words: Cloak and Dagger! That’s right, the super-duo has entered the scene. And boy, are they not taking any prisoners. They easily dispatch the gang and use their powers to teleport Spidey to an abandoned church. While there, Shriek and Doppelganger decide it’s time to bring down the house (or church) around them! All five of them then square off, and the battle begins. For the most part, it seems as if the good guys might have this one in the bag until Carnage arrives! This definitely turns the odds in favor of Team Carnage. So much in fact, that Spidey’s ribs are reinjured and Dagger is seemingly killed!

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The big baddies then get into a squabble about who’s going to finish off Spider-Man until they decide upon a temporary retreat. But their exit does not go unnoticed. The Demogoblin watches from a nearby rooftop. (Hmmm. I wonder which side he’ll  choose? Stupid question!)  Anyway, this issue ends with our favorite symbiotic anti-hero, Venom, catching wind of the massacre on the news from his new city. (Methinks things just got more awesome!)

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The next part of our tale leads us to New York’s Laguardia Airport, where a very strange passenger has just completed a long flight from San Francisco and appears to be talking to himself. (Hey, who doesn’t now and then?) The truth of the matter is that he’s talking to his “other,” and by “other,” I of course mean his symbiotic other half! Together they are known as Venom! It turns out that the stranger is no other than Eddie Brock, and as he gets more agitated he suddenly “Venoms out” in the middle of the terminal! Wasting little time (no kidding, right?!), he swings off in search of Carnage!

amazing-spider-man-378-002anpymgold_kindlephoto-9667518Meanwhile, Spider-Man tries in vain to calm Cloak’s broken heart about the death of his partner at the hands of Shriek. But alas, nothing can sooth the poor guy, and he teleports away. While this is going on, Team Carnage is on a nearby rooftop, beating the crap out of each other to see just who is “top dog” in this outfit. Carnage of course wins and all is immediately good in the hood. (Warms your heart, doesn’t it? I mean, a family that slays together, stays together!)

amazing-spider-man-378-011anpymgold_kindlephoto-9749695While Carnage and his “family” resume their murder spree, Spidey returns home to bandage up. While there, he catches the news and deciding that he can’t just lie around, he heads back out. This, of course, is the perfect time for the poor guy to run into the deranged creature known only as Demogoblin! The two battle a bit until Spider-Man is dropped by a new weapon of Demo’s, a pumpkin bomb containing a type of “living darkness” that seems to make the hero lose all hope! It isn’t until the intervention of a passing priest that Spider-Man finds faith in himself in the nick of time. And by the nick of time, I mean right before an actual pumpkin bomb goes off right next to him and the priest! Demogoblin takes this moment to escape, and Spidey limps back home. At this time, Venom finds our favorite red psychopath in the park and attacks! The only problem? Carnage has back up!  Time passes and Spider-Man arrives home. He attempts to unwind with the wife when a tapping is heard on the apartment door. Mary Jane (In her bra and panties with a loose robe just barely thrown over her! I mean, have some class, lady!) answers the door and a very injured Venom drops in (literally)!

amazing-spider-man-378-023anpymgoldAs Venom is helped to the Web-Slinger’s couch, Mary Jane leaves in a huff (Women! Am I right, fellas?!) because she’s been on this kick about Peter putting his life on the line as Spider-Man. This leaves Spider-Man to do what any rational man in his situation would do…..seek advice from an old flame?! Wait a minute! What?!

11_kindlephoto-16288753Anyway, this “old flame” just happens to be Felicia Hardy AKA the Black Cat. As Spidey talks about his fears of teaming up with his one time nemesis, Venom, Felicia has some shocking advice to give: do it! But while this has been going on, the Demogoblin has at last found Carnage and Co. and attacks! But Carnage has a few tricks up his symbiotic sleeve. He talks old Gobby into joining them!

12Meanwhile, Black Cat takes this moment to have a chat with Venom about “playing nice” with Spider-Man and herself. Spidey backs her up, and Venom agrees. Team Spider-Man is starting to come together! Speaking of Team Spider-Man, Cloak locates Carnage and the other villains in their temporary lair! Seeking justice for Dagger, he lashes out. However, he soon finds himself to be no match for all four of them and begins to falter. Luckily, this is the moment Spider-Man, Venom, and Black Cat come to the rescue! (Yay!) The heroes start to get the upper hand in the fight until Carnage has the roof brought down around them! (They really don’t like roofs, do they?!)

21_kindlephoto-16346926Cloak teleports out but Venom and Black Cat are severely injured. As Carnage escapes, Spider-Man must make a hard decision. Does he help his allies, or does he peruse the villains before more lives are lost?

01-02The next issue reveals that Spider-Man has in fact made up his mind. He has decided to stay back and help out his teammates. The only problem is that they didn’t want to be saved! First Venom cusses him out and even attacks him, stating that his life meant nothing compared to that of the innocents that will now surely perish at the hands of his villainous offspring. No shocker there. Venom and Spidey never see eye to eye. The kicker is when Black Cat agrees! (Ya just can’t please some people!) Anyway, both leave our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man alone with his thoughts and head back out in pursuit of Carnage and his cohorts. We then look in upon Carnage and his group. It seems as if there’s more dissension in the ranks as Carnage and Demogoblin go at it about how to more effectively maim and kill the poor people of New York. Shriek, being a good “mother/wife” calms the situation and they all head back out on their merry way.

17_kindlephoto-4562316But, what’s this? Someone is actually following these psychos?! At this time, Peter Parker looks for advice in his Aunt May. She basically tells him not to compromise his ideals. That he has to be true to himself. (Sweet, huh?) But, at this time, Peter’s “father” is listening in and, after Peter leaves May, gives his own advice: fight fire with fire. Some people are beyond help and monsters exist inside of everyone. (Great advice coming from a robot! Remember these “suddenly back from the dead” parents were actually Live Model Decoys created by the Chameleon under orders from Harry Osborn?! Ahhh. Comics!)

Back to the action. As Spidey swings around, he decides to take his Aunt’s advice rather then his robo-daddy’s. But, just as he does, it is revealed that the good people of New York have formed violent mobs around the city! Spider-Man witnesses one of these mobs in action and of course tries to help out the victims. But, just like with Venom and Black Cat, most don’t want his help! They actually dog-pile on the Webhead and start wailing on him! It is then, perhaps thinking of his “father’s” words, that Spidey lashes back! He then proclaims, flames and destruction behind him, that he’s done being Mr. Nice Guy! Epic scene really, with tons of emotion. (And the Oscar goes to…..)

21_kindlephoto-4631113The next issue takes us to a scene of ultimate….well….carnage! The city lies devastated and corpses line the street! (Upbeat, huh?) But, as we look on as New York burns, the mysterious figure from earlier looks on as well.

web-of-spider-man-102-01He is called Carrion, and he is on the trail of death! As Charon floats away, we are taken to another scene nearby. We are witness to a woman in terror as a gang of lethal looters attempt to attack her. But a savior gets to them first! He is Morbius the Living Vampire. He’s on the hunt for the blood of an evil-doer, and he finds it here in abundance. After feasting upon their blood, Morbius finds himself being watched by what remains of Team Spider-Man. Venom makes an offer Morbius can’t refuse and….bam….instant new ally!

web-of-spider-man-102-0203Meanwhile, Spider-Man, now determined to treat these killers like the the lowly dogs they are, heads out on patrol. What’s Mary Jane doing while her husband throws himself in mortal danger again and again? Dancing at a nightclub called The Deep, of course! Karma has it, though, that Carnage and Co. randomly choose this particular club as a new killing field! Chaos erupts within the club as people are torn to pieces! The madness doesn’t last long, though, as Venom, Cloak, Black Cat, and Morbius intervene with a vengeance! Both groups instantly begin beating the holy hell out of each other as Mary Jane hides in horror! Spider-Man then joins the fray, with his new attitude accompanying him! Carnage is soon forced to call for a tactical retreat. Spider-Man looks to Venom and informs him that, for now on, they’re finishing this at any cost!

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The final installment of the first half of the Maximum Carnage storyline begins where the nightmare that is known as Carnage started…..St. Estes Home for Boys. Ol’ Webhead has decided for his team to regroup here and perhaps shed some insights into how to defeat the mass murdering monster. (Carnage fans will of course remember that this is the orphanage where Cletus Kasady AKA Carnage grew up. If not, shame on you!)

amazing-spider-man-379-001anpymgoldWhile there, the weaknesses of a symbiote are discussed: sonics and fire. The best place to get a sonic blaster is the Fantastic Four headquarters. (They have the most amazing toys! Reed does have a lot of time on his hands to create them, seeing as he spends little to no time with his wife! Did I just go there?! Slam! ) As for fire, how about the mutant known as Firestar?! Cloak teleports out to retrieve her as the others head out to the home of the FF. While this is going on,  Carnage and his band of miscreants are at last confronted by a team of elite police officers!

amazing-spider-man-379-009anpymgold_kindlephoto-33546829This is the moment that the mysterious Carrion chooses to show his allegiance in this war. He does this by touching the officers, causing them to decay almost instantly! Another recruit for Team Carnage! But, what’s this? At an undisclosed location, the cybernetic hero known as Deathlok is preparing to stop this insanity! Deathlok then strikes with maximum force, but the odds are not in his favor. He is soon defeated. Team Spider-Man is unaware of any of this as they break into the FF HQ. (This kind of occurs with ease! I mean, isn’t Reed Richards supposed to be a genius?! Makes the whole outfit look bad! Oh well. Moving on.)

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The sonic blaster is retrieved, and the heroes return to safety. It is there that Cloak arrives with Firestar!

amazing-spider-man-379-022anpymgold_kindlephoto-33600261 Yep, things seem to be looking up! (That is until the next scene, where Deathlok is shown near-crucified to a building engulfed in flames!) Well, that’s it, loyal fans of the Unspoken! Next month, I will return with the second (and last) installment of my look back on the Maximum Carnage epic! Until then, enjoy your Thanksgiving and remember: Nothing wakes you up better after a turkey feast then rereading an awesome 90’s comic! Ta!

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